The new-look Baltimore Orioles shellacked the Tigers, 8-3, tonight, and afterward Manager Earl Weaver said he might have to call a coaches' meeting soon to figure out what to do with all his fresh, young talent.
There were home runs by hot-hitting Joe Nolan, who started the season as a backup catcher, from rookies Cal Ripken Jr. and Floyd Rayford, and from first-year Oriole Dan Ford and veteran Ken Singleton. There was a solid pitching performance from rookie Storm Davis, the youngest man in the majors who got his first start in the bigs and turned it into his first major-league victory.
Ripken shone in the field in his third straight game at shortstop and the pudgy Rayford turned two nice plays and one not so nice one at third base, where he was filling in for Ripken for the third straight day.
At the end, it was a happy bunch celebrating their second straight victory over Detroit. The Orioles came here down in the dumps after three straight losses to the Cleveland Indians. Now, should they win the final game against Detroit Sunday, it will mark their first three-game series sweep of the season.
Just short of the halfway mark of the season the Orioles are in perfect striking distance of East Division-leading Boston and Milwaukee.
They jumped to an early lead before 24,782 in Tiger Stadium tonight and took the pressure off young Davis, who had a green and jittery look as he waited in the clubhouse for the game to begin. Singleton lofted his sixth homer in the opening inning for a 1-0 lead and Ripken's (No. 10) and Nolan's (No. 4) came back to back off Detroit starter Jerry Ujdur in the fourth to make it 3-0.
Singleton made it 4-0 with a run-scoring double in the fifth inning and Baltimore put the contest away in the sixth with two-run homers by Rayford and Ford.
The dugout was an eerie, silent place when Rayford lumbered in after his first homer in the majors (it was only his sixth big-league hit). The Orioles were putting the quiet treatment on him and he was so unaccustomed to glory he didn't even notice.
"I went down to the end of the dugout and sat down," said the cheerful infielder. "I thought it was kind of quiet, so when I looked around, I saw everybody was looking at me. So I figured I better get up and shake some hands." Which he did.
It was 8-0 after the Orioles' half of the sixth and Davis, six months shy of his 21st birthday, said he could feel his arm beginning to tighten up. He gave up a solo home run to Rick Leach when he went out, but stemmed any further Tiger uprising.
In the seventh, he was even tighter and gave up two hits and a run before giving way to reliever Ross Grimsley, who lasted only two batters and allowed the final Tiger run, which was charged to Davis. Don Stanhouse came on to mop up, and he lasted until the last out in the ninth, which Tippy Martinez nailed down.
Davis said of his first start, "I try to give myself a plus or minus for each game. This is definitely a plus. Any time you hold the other team to three runs you're doing all right." The tall right-hander from Jacksonville, Fla., said he was relieved to have his first victory under his belt. "This is probably the toughest," he said.
Weaver said before tonight's game that he wanted to give Rayford, who has played least of anyone on the Baltimore roster this year, a chance to show whether he can hit major league hitting. Rayford did so tonight with the homer and a hard shot down the third base line on which Tom Brookens made a diving stop.
But if he had failed tonight, Weaver said, the chance might have ended for the time being.
Ripken looks smooth at shortstop, where light-hitting Lenn Sakata and Bob Bonner have been playing. The Ripken-Rayford combo "gives us a lot of options," Weaver said. As does the continued hot hand of Nolan behind the plate. He was three for four tonight, with a double and single as well as the homer.
Jim Palmer, who left after five innings Friday night with a sore elbow, said tonight he would not know how bad the injury is until he has had a chance to throw in the next few days. If it is painful, he will seek medical advice on the West Coast, where the Orioles go next, Palmer said.